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World science remains exclusionary and elitist
UNESCO Science Report
2010 presented in Havana

Cuba, ranked fourth in the region for its activities, concentrating on the use of science and technology to produce medicines, combat disease and improve quality of life
Marianela Martín González


• THE bulk of commercial patents in the world are for cosmetics and other glamorous products. However, millions of people are still dying from malaria and cancer and no patents as yet exist to counteract these diseases. This situation was reflected on at Havana’s San Gerónimo University College during a presentation of the UNESCO Science Report 2010.

During the presentation, Susan Schneegans, an official from UNESCO’s Natural and Exact Sciences Sector, acknowledged Cuba’s position as fourth in its geographic region in relation to activities in the field of science, technology and technical innovation.

Dr. Ismael Clark Arxer, president of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, who introduced the Cuba chapter in the UNESCO Report, spoke of the island nation’s research priorities, such as the neurosciences, basic science, computer technology, communications and nanotechnology.

In the context of the international reach of Cuban science he noted that products against auto-immune diseases are being developed with China. Cuba is also working on projects for the transfer of technology to combat cancer.

Dr. Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart, scientific advisor to the Council of State, described the island’s efforts in biotechnology as among the most advanced in the Third World and commented that the island holds numerous patents on health care products benefiting persons in a number of countries.

In relation to indicators which serve to measure scientific and technological impacts, Dr. Juan Luis Martín Chávez, secretary of the Social Sciences Higher Council, warned of the commercialization of science, a danger which is increasing with the growth of science in the business sector.

“This phenomenon can point science in the direction of money-making objectives rather than addressing the resolution of urgent needs,” he stated, indicating the concentration of 75% of the world GDP in only 15 nations, many of which prioritize financially lucrative demands as opposed to responding to urgent social needs.


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A revolution in health
• Tens of thousands of lives saved and disabilities avoided as a result of vaccination programs and campaigns

José A. de la Osa

• HOW may lives have been saved, and aftereffects of illnesses avoided in these last 50 years as a result of Cuba’s mass immunization programs, today standing at 11 vaccines providing protection against 13 diseases which, together with other preventive programs have made our country at present free of 15 contagious diseases?

“Tens of thousands!” was the response to Granma’s question put to specialists Marlén Valcárcel and Miguel Angel Galindo at a meeting of Health, Epidemiology, and Microbiology professionals headed by Deputy Health Minister Luis Estruch Rancaño. As officials in the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), they are responsible for the design, control and development of vaccination programs, undertaken by the Revolution as long ago as February 26, 1962.

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Cuba puts together nanosciences and pharmacology

Written by Editorial Staff
Tuesday, 28 December 2010 18:19
Havana, Cuba. – In order to increase the effectiveness of medicines, as well as to apply more effective and less invasive and toxic treatments, Cuba incorporates nanotechnology and nanosciences to the drug production. 

Marlene Porto, head of the State Control Center for the Quality Control of Medicines, assured that this will allow the creation of products to fight cancer or other diseases, that in the future could be healed.
The scientist remarked the institution works in lines to design drugs of steady action on a nanotechnology scale, to obtain products able to keep in blood the dose the patient requires.

He explained nanotechnology can represent risks, thus the State Control Center for the Quality Control of Medicines works in regulation and security measures  that accompany these technologies.

Advances in Medical Technology in Cuba

jueves, 04 de noviembre de 2010
04 de noviembre de 2010, 00:01Havana, November 4 (Prensa Latina) Methods of analysis of the electrical cerebral activity are presented in the 28th edition of the International Fair of Havana (FIHAV 2010), here from November 1 to 6.
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Cuba Recognized as an Example of Risk Reduction

Representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Latin America and the Caribbean, acknowledged the important work undertaken by Cuba in reducing risks caused by the occurrence of natural disasters, reports AIN.

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INFLUENZA A H1N1 Cuban scientific talent responds

Joel Mayor Lorán

OUR scientists have developed technology in Cuba to manufacture Oseltamivir, the drug now being used to treat victims of the A H1N1 flu virus. In 2009 they completed the process of testing and registering the product.

According to Saul Padron, doctor of pharmacy, and deputy director for Complex Technologies at the Center for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, (CIDEM), more than 80% of the medicines circulating in Cuba are produced on the island.

“It isn’t just this antiviral, state policy is to guarantee broad patient access to medicines.”

The CIDEM emerged with the idea of replacing imported drugs. To date, it has registered more than 700 medications, which involves considerable savings in hard currency. But even more important are the lives saved and our satisfaction with product effectiveness.

When the pandemic began, the antiviral to fight it (Tamiflu) disappeared from the shelves in many countries. Prices went up: from four euros per capsule (10 are prescribed for treatment) to 6.90 euros at present.”

With a degree in Nuclear Chemical Technology from the Russian university named after Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleiev, Saul is project director of antiviral medicines in the institution located in the West Havana Scientific Complex.

“Developing Oseltamivir was hard work, but we did it with love and much cohesion among pharmacists, chemists, biochemists, engineers; all of us who worked on it, in anticipation of what could happen.

“The national leadership kept abreast with every step: acquiring the raw materials, precise coordination and during the final stage, where we knew that it wasn’t just a ‘maybe.’ All of that effort was a marvelous experience.

“We knew the benefits of that hard work but, at the same time, we hoped not to have to apply all those calculations. However, it was necessary and we are happy to know that we completed the task in time.”


While Tamiflu, which the country has imported to fight the A H1N1 flu virus, was made for adults, the Cuban researchers also provided pediatric doses, which include an oral suspension for infants.

The CIDEM staff didn’t hesitate to work Saturdays and Sundays to fill medicine bottles with Oseltamivir powder for newborns. “By doing that we avoided doctors having to break open the capsules and weigh precise amounts for their youngest patients.”

Samuel, his baby of barely eight months, was born precisely in the final stage of the development of anti-A H1N1 flu drug. Those were hours shared between the center and home, and moreover, his wife and other children are well aware that every victory requires dedication.

The algorithm for arriving at Oseltamivir, as in the case of other products, implied different tests and studies, from the moment of acquiring the raw materials and confirming their quality.

While the formulation and ingredient analysis are crucial phases, so are complementary studies, acceleration development, and presentation of the sanitary file for product registration and industrial production.

Of course, each stage is distinguished by research and quality control. The CIDEM has gained prestige, for its dedication and precision. That is also due to its development of anti-retrovirals to treat HIV/AIDS (some that have won national prizes for technological innovation). And, if that is not enough, it is producing cytostatic (tumor suppressing) drugs in its units.


NOVATEC Laboratories, also in the capital’s Scientific Complex, is manufacturing Oseltamivir at industrial scale, as well as anti-retroviral, high blood pressure medication among 45 other medicines on file, in tablet and capsule form.

Components in powder form are weighed according to the formula given them by their colleagues. The ingredients are mixed to form granules, which are placed into a hard gelatin capsule and from there placed in pre-formed packs of 10 units each.

The design of the modern plant integrates its production lines in a vertical technological flow, with product movement operating on the force of gravity.

However, none of this would be possible without the human input, involving a wide range of highly qualified personnel who are constantly updating their knowledge and, above all, are aware that the purpose of their work is to combat an illness that, if not opportunely treated, could lead to serious complications.

More than 75 milligrams of an effective drug in each packet of Oseltamivir is proof of the fact that the talent and will of many can win the toughest battles for life.